Get insider access
Preferred speaker store

Sony SRS-XB43 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jan 20, 2021 at 08:36 am
Sony SRS-XB43 Picture
6.5
Music
5.9
Videos/Movies
7.0
Podcasts
4.1
Voice Assistant
7.5
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
Yes

The Sony SRS-XB43 is a well-built, portable speaker that you can use either horizontally or vertically. It has customizable lighting and an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. Unfortunately, even with its EXTRA BASS and Sony ClearAudio+ features activated, it has an uneven sound profile that struggles to reproduce low-bass. Its soundstage is uneven and narrow, too. However, the basic graphic EQ in the Sony Music Center app can help you customize its sound to your liking.

Our Verdict

6.5 Music

The Sony XB43 is fair for music. It has a balanced mid-range that's suitable for dialogue-centric content, but its underemphasized treble can make higher frequencies sound dull or veiled. Also, it struggles to reproduce low-bass, even with its EXTRA BASS setting turned on. Fortunately, you do have some ability to customize its sound to your liking using the graphic EQ in the Sony Music Center app. While it gets loud, its soundstage is quite narrow, and there's some compression present when you play it at max volume.

Pros
  • Supports multi-device pairing.
  • Graphic EQ.
Cons
  • Compression artifacts at max volume.
  • Narrow soundstage.
5.9 Videos/Movies

The Sony XB43 is middling for videos and movies. Even with its EXTRA BASS setting turned on, it struggles to produce low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump in action-packed scenes. Its soundstage is narrow and directional, which doesn't create a very immersive listening experience. Fortunately, its latency with iOS and Android devices via Bluetooth is low, so your audio should sync up with the images you see.

Pros
  • Low latency via Bluetooth.
Cons
  • Compression artifacts at max volume.
  • Narrow soundstage.
7.0 Podcasts

The Sony XB43 is decent for podcasts. Its balanced mid-range can reproduce vocals clearly, though its underemphasized treble range can make higher-frequency sounds a bit dull and veiled. You can adjust its sound profile using the EQ in the Sony Music Center app, however. It gets pretty loud, but unfortunately, there are some compression artifacts present when you play it at max volume.

Pros
  • Portable design.
  • Supports multi-device pairing.
Cons
  • Compression artifacts at max volume.
4.1 Voice Assistant

The Sony XB43 is poor for voice assistant. It doesn't have any built-in voice assistant capabilities, so it just uses the system on your paired smartphone. As part of our methodology, we use recorded voice commands to test the speaker. However, the speaker didn't respond to some of these commands, even when there isn't any ambient noise present. While it responded to a normal speaking voice, this isn't part of our testing process.

Pros
  • Portable design.
Cons
  • No built-in voice assistant.
7.5 Outdoors

The Sony XB43 is great for outdoor use. It has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. It feels durable, and since it's battery-operated, it's very portable. It lasts around 15 hours off of a single charge, which is incredible, and there are lots of power-saving features available. However, its soundstage isn't very immersive, and there's some compression present when you play it at max volume.

Pros
  • IP67 rating.
  • Portable design.
Cons
  • Compression artifacts at max volume.
  • 6.5 Music
  • 5.9 Videos/Movies
  • 7.0 Podcasts
  • 4.1 Voice Assistant
  • 7.5 Outdoors
  1. Updated Jan 20, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Jan 15, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights Yes

The Sony SRS-XB43 has a similar design to the Sony SRS-XB33, but it's a bit bigger in size. It has a rectangular shape with passive radiators on each end. There are also lights on each side, and you can use the app to choose between lots of different colors. You can place this speaker either vertically or horizontally. It comes in several different colors, too. If you're looking for a larger Sony speaker you can use at parties, check out the Sony XB72, which also comes with customizable RGB lights.

8.8
Design
Portability
Volume
285 inยณ (4,677 cmยณ)
Weight
6.4 lbs (2.9 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

The Sony SRS-XB43ย is amazingly portable. It's small, and you can carry it with one hand. Also, since it's battery-powered, you can bring it outdoors without worrying about plugging it into an outlet.

7.9
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
Submersible (IPx7)
Dust Resistance
Dust-Proof (IP6x)
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The Sony SRS-XB43 has a very good build quality. It's rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. Overall, it has a durable feel, and the thick netting wrapping around most of the speaker doesn't seem like it could rip easily. There's also a rubber cover in the rear that protects the opening for the inputs.

8.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
Yes (Physical)
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Physical)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

The Sony SRS-XB43's controls are impressive. On top of the speaker, there are physical buttons that let you power it on/off, activate Bluetooth pairing, play/pause your audio, adjust the volume, and enter 'LIVE' or 'STAMINA' modes. The 'LIVE' mode is advertised to create a more immersive, 3D audio experience, and the 'STAMINA' mode can help save battery life. You can press the Play button twice to skip to the next track, and three times to skip to the previous track. The buttons are easy to press, and there are mini display lights on some of the buttons that show their status. On the back of the speaker, you can find the buttons for stereo pairing, Party Mode, and a Battery button that lets you activate the lights and hear the battery level of your speaker.

Design
In The Box

  • Sony SRS-XB43 speaker
  • AC power adapter with USB-C connection
  • User Manual

Sound
6.6
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.71
Std. Err.
3.71 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
55.8 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
10.2 kHz

The Sony SRS-XB43 has alright frequency response accuracy. It has a balanced mid-range that can produce vocals and lead instruments clearly; however, some higher-frequency sounds can be a bit dull or veiled. Even with the 'EXTRA BASS' and 'Sony ClearAudio+' features enabled, it struggles to reproduce low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy genres. Fortunately, there's a graphic EQ in the Sony Music Center app to help you customize its sound to your liking. However, if you prefer a speaker with a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, check out the Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6.

Note: By default, Sony ClearAudio+ is enabled when the EXTRA BASS feature is selected. The ClearAudio+ feature is advertised to automatically detect your audio content and adjust its sound field to better suit your audio. However, it can't be disabled if you just want to use the EXTRA BASS feature on its own.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
6.1
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
7.34 dB
Stereo
Yes

The Sony SRS-XB43's soundstage is mediocre. Even though it's a stereo speaker, its directivity is poor. As a result, its soundstage is perceived as narrow and directional. Also, the overemphasis in the treble range can make the soundstage seem uneven. If you're looking for a similarly-sized speaker with a better soundstage performance, try the JBL Xtreme 3.

6.7
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
91.1 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
3.19 dB

The Sony SRS-XB43ย has adequate dynamics. It can get loud, making it suitable for use at parties. However, there are some compression artifacts present when you play it at max volume. For a speaker that can get louder with less compression, check out the Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM.

Active Features
8.3
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
15.0 hrs
Charge Time
4.5 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
USB-C

The Sony SRS-XB43 has an impressive battery performance. In our testing, it lasted for 15 hours off of a single charge, which is outstanding. The manufacturer advertises that it can last 24 hours off of a single charge if you set the volume to 31, turn off the lights, and activate STAMINA mode. That said, battery life can vary according to usage and whether you have EXTRA BASS or STAMINA MODE activated, so your experience may differ. The speaker also shuts off after 15 minutes without audio, which can help conserve its battery life. You can turn this power-saving feature off, too.

2.9
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
Yes (Requires Smartphone)
Siri
Yes (Requires Smartphone)
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No
Far-Field Performance
Poor
Ambient Noise Performance
Poor

The Sony SRS-XB43 has a terrible voice assistant performance. It doesn't have any built-in voice assistant capabilities, so it just uses the voice assistants from your paired smartphone. As part of our methodology, we use recorded voice commands to test the speaker. However, it had some difficulty registering these commands, even when there isn't any ambient noise present. It can register commands from a normal speaking voice, but this isn't part of our testing process. For a speaker with built-in voice assistants, check out the Bose Portable Smart Speaker.

7.9
Active Features
App
App Name
Sony Music Center
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Graphic
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
No

The Sony Music Center app is very good. There's a graphic EQ to help you customize the speaker's sound, as well as three sound settings: 'LIVE' helps reproduce a more three-dimensional audio experience, 'EXTRA BASS' gives a more bass-heavy sound, and 'STAMINA' is a power-saving feature. There are also DJ effect options in the app, including sound effects like isolator, notch, jet, and noise. You can also access the Fiestable app, with lets you control the party features of the speaker. You can even pair it with other speakers to create a stereo pair or cover a large area for a party.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
Yes
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
Yes

The Sony SRS-XB43ย has an AUX port that you can use to wire your smartphone to it to play audio. There's also a DC OUT ONLY USB-A port, which can charge a USB device, but you can't use it to playback audio. Also, there's an Audio IN jack.

8.7
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Bluetooth iOS Latency
63 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
116 ms
Bluetooth Range
334.6 ft (102.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices

The Sony SRS-XB43 has amazing Bluetooth connectivity. It supports multi-device pairing, so you can easily switch your audio source between your phone and your laptop. Also, you can touch your NFC-capable device to the speaker for quick Bluetooth pairing. Its latency with iOS and Android devices is low enough to be suitable for watching movies and videos. However, some apps compensate for latency differently, so your experience may vary.

0
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
No Wi-Fi
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

The Sony XB43 isn't Wi-Fi-compatible.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sony SRS-XB43 Extra Bass comes in 'Black', 'Taupe', and 'Blue'. We tested the 'Black' variant, and you can see the label for the model we tested here. We expect the other color variants to perform similarly.

If you come across another version, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Sony SRS-XB43 is a speaker from Sony's Extra Bass series. Like the Sony SRS-XB33, you can use it either horizontally or vertically. Even though it has an EXTRA BASS feature, it still struggles to reproduce low-bass, its overall sound profile is quite uneven, and its soundstage is very narrow. Fortunately, it offers a graphic EQ to help you customize its sound.

JBL Xtreme 2

The JBL Xtreme 2 is a slightly better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB43. The JBL has a better soundstage performance, resulting in a more immersive sound. It can also understand you more easily when using your smartphone's voice assistant. However, the Sony has a graphic EQ that lets you customize its sound profile.

JBL Charge 5

The Sony SRS-XB43 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 5 overall. While the JBL has a better-balanced sound profile, the Sony comes with a graphic EQ, so you can customize its sound to better suit your preferences. It has a ClearAudio+ feature advertised to adjust the speaker's sound according to your audio content and can get louder than the JBL. Additionally, it supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't great.

JBL Xtreme 3

The JBL Xtreme 3 and the Sony SRS-XB43 are similar speakers, so depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The JBL is better-built and has a better soundstage performance. However, the Sony has longer battery life, and it supports voice assistants. Also, the Sony's graphic EQ allows for greater sound customization.

Sony SRS-XB33

The Sony SRS-XB43 is better for most uses than the Sony SRS-XB33. Though both speakers have an uneven sound profile out-of-the-box, the XB43's is better-balanced. It can also get louder. While the XB33 lists an IK rating for impact resistance, there isn't an IK rating specified for the XB43. Also, the XB33 has lower latency via Bluetooth with Android and iOS devices, though some apps compensate for latency, so your experience may vary.

JBL Charge 4

The Sony SRS-XB43 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4 overall. The Sony has a better-balanced sound profile that can produce more bass than the JBL. It features a graphic EQ you can use to customize its sound to your liking. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't very good. Also, it has a longer battery life, lasting around 15 hours from a single charge, though this can vary depending on your usage habits. That said, the JBL is slightly smaller and more portable than the Sony. It also has fewer compression artifacts present at max volume.

JBL Boombox 2

The JBL Boombox 2 is a slightly better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB43 overall. The JBL can produce deeper bass than the Sony and gets louder with slightly fewer compression artifacts at max volume. It also has an exceptionally long battery life, lasting almost 24 hours from a single charge, though this can vary depending on your usage. The Sony is more customizable, with a graphic EQ you can use to adjust its sound to better suit your preferences. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't very good.

JBL FLIP 5

The Sony SRS-XB43 is a better speaker than the JBL FLIP 5 overall. The Sony can get louder than the JBL and is more customizable thanks to the graphic EQ featured on its companion app. It also has a longer battery life, lasting about 15 hours from a single charge, though this can vary depending on your usage. Additionally, it can support voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't very good. That said, the JBL is smaller and more portable than the Sony.

Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3 is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB43 overall. The Ultimate Ears has much better directivity, resulting in a wider-sounding soundstage. It's also more portable and is better built than the Sony. That said, the Sony can pair to up to two devices at once, which can come in handy if you need to switch between audio sources quickly. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't very good.

Anker Soundcore Motion+

The Sony SRS-XB43 and the Anker Soundcore Motion+ are similar speakers. The Sony is better-built, with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't test for this. It also has a ClearAudio+ feature advertised to adjust the speaker's sound field to better suit your audio content. That said, the Anker has a wider-sounding soundstage than the Sony. It also has a slightly longer battery life, though this can depend on your usage habits. Additionally, it's smaller and more portable than the Sony.

Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II

The Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II is a slightly better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB43 overall. The Bose is smaller and more portable than the Sony, thanks to its built-in carrying handle. It also has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, and has much better directivity thanks to its 360-degree design, so its soundstage is perceived as wide and spacious. That said, the Sony can get louder than the Bose, and is more customizable thanks to the graphic EQ featured on its Sony Music Center app, so you can tweak its sound to your liking. 

Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Sony SRS-XB43 or the Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 6. The Sony is better-built with longer battery life, and it supports voice assistants from your smartphone. Also, its companion app offers a graphic EQ so you can customize its sound profile. However, the Harman/Kardon has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box.

Marshall Emberton

The Marshall Emberton is a slightly better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB43 overall. The Marshall offers a slightly more neutral sound profile, making it suitable for listening to a wide variety of audio content. It also has excellent directivity, so its soundstage is perceived as wider and more natural-sounding than that of the Sony. That said, the Sony can get louder with fewer compression artifacts present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volumes. 

Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM

The Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB43. The Ultimate Ears has a better soundstage performance, and its out-of-the-box sound profile is better-balanced. It also gets louder and has longer battery life. However, the Sony supports voice assistants from your smartphone, and it's smaller as well as better-built.

Sony SRS-XB23

The Sony SRS-XB43 is a bit better than the Sony SRS-XB23. Both speakers have a somewhat uneven sound profile, but the XB43 has a more extended low-bass. It also gets louder, and it has longer battery life. While the XB23 lists an IK rating for impact resistance, the XB43 doesn't. The XB23 also has a better soundstage performance.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB43. The Ultimate Ears is better-built and it has a wider soundstage. While the Sony's low-bass is more extended, the Ultimate Ears has a better-balanced treble range. The Sony gets louder, but the Ultimate Ears has less compression at max volume. However, the Sony supports voice assistants, unlike the Ultimate Ears, and it has a graphic EQ for sound customization.

Sonos Roam

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Sonos Roam or the Sony SRS-XB43. The Sonos is more portable and better-built, and it supports voice assistants. It comes with bass and treble adjustments, while the Sony has a graphic EQ for sound customization. Also, the Sony supports stereo content, gets louder, and has longer battery life.

Bose Portable Smart Speaker

The Bose Portable Smart Speaker is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB43. The Bose has Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, which can easily understand you, whereas the Sony relies on the voice assistant from your paired smartphone and struggles to understand you. The Bose is also smaller and more portable. However, the Sony has a full graphic EQ, while the Bose only comes with bass and treble sliders. The Sony's battery also lasts for fifteen hours, while the Bose has about a five-hour battery life.

Sony XG500

The Sony XG500 is a better overall speaker than the Sony SRS-XB43. The XG500 can get louder than the XB43 and has a somewhat wider-sounding soundstage. It also has a much longer battery life, lasting over 25 hours from a single charge, though this can depend on your usage. That said, the XB43 is smaller, more portable than the XG500, and supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't great.

Bose SoundLink Micro

The Sony SRS-XB43 is a better speaker for most uses than the Bose SoundLink Micro. While both speakers have uneven sound profiles out-of-the-box, the Sony's is better-balanced overall, and it offers a graphic EQ for sound customization. It can also play stereo content, unlike the Bose, and it gets louder and has longer battery life. However, the Bose has a wider, less directional soundstage.

Sony XB72

The Sony XB72 is a better overall speaker than the Sony SRS-XB43. The XB72 can get louder than the SRS-XB43 and has much better directivity, resulting in a wider and more natural-sounding soundstage. That said, the SRS-XB43 is better built, with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. It's also smaller and more portable than the XB72, so you can easily take it outdoors with you.

Sony SRS-RA3000

The Sony SRS-RA3000 and the Sony SRS-XB43 have different strengths. While the SRS-RA3000 has a more natural and open-sounding soundstage, the SRS-XB43 is better-built, with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't test this. It's battery-powered, making it more portable, and also supports voice assistants through your smartphone.

Sony SRS-RA5000

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Sony SRS-RA5000 or the Sony SRS-XB43 overall. The SRS-RA5000 has a better-balanced sound profile and can get slightly louder than the SRS-XB43. It also has better directivity, so its soundstage is perceived as wide and spacious. The SRS-XB43 is smaller, battery-powered, and is better built, making it more portable than the SRS-RA5000. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't good.

+ Show more

Discussions